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Free at Noon Flashback: Kacey Musgraves lights up the stage with her unique brand of country

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Later this very night, Kacey Musgraves will play on a much larger stage to a much larger crowd. But this afternoon, the rising country star was more than content to bring things down a notch and play a soft, intimate set to a crowd brimming with enthusiasm.

Before today’s performance even began, as a line of eager audience members filled the World Cafe Live stairs and spilled out the door, it became clear that this would not be your average Free at Noon. And if you were lucky enough to score a spot at today’s sold-out show, you had the rare chance to see Kacey Musgraves on what may just be the smallest stage you’ll ever see her. But even though the Texas native is accustomed to playing bigger shows these days — especially on her current arena tour with Harry Styles, which makes a stop at the Wells Fargo Center tonight — she seemed downright thrilled by venue’s homey feel and awestruck crowd.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Natalie Prass fuses neo-soul and power pop for a stripped down set

Natalie Prass | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Decked out in a sparkling yellow ensemble and backed by a full band, Natalie Prass performed songs from her new album The Future And The Past as well as some older songs. Prass opened with “The Fire,” a song that shows off her unique blend of neo-soul and power pop. Her music is full of infectious rhythms and on-a-dime key changes, expertly handled with her signature soprano. She mentioned the lack of their touring keyboardist, resulting in a more stripped-down set, but still perfectly and polished and executed with style. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Ruen Brothers debuts All My Shades of Blue at World Cafe Live

Ruen Brothers | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

The weekend kicked off with a Free At Noon set from The Ruen Brothers, siblings Henry and Rupert Stansall out of Scunthorpe, England. The brothers wore matching bolo ties over button up shirts, crossing midwestern cowboy with 60’s greaser. Their music is nostalgic rockabilly, twanging with grit. The brothers shared a mic, trading harmonies with faces at kissing distance. Colin, who Henry dubbed their “third brother from Detroit,” played drums, pausing between songs to adjust his black plastic eyeglasses. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Greg Sover is charismatic and commanding at World Cafe Live

Greg Sover | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Today’s Free at Noon thundered in with the powerful music of the blues/rock Greg Sover Band. Taking to the stage donning his signature steampunk jacket and flashing a charismatic smile, Sover shook any lingering lethargy from those in the audience in a contagious, energetic performance with his band. The crowd swayed and rocked while shifting psychedelic patterns were projected overhead. The magnetic Sover established an immediate rapport with the crowd, joking in between songs and taking a moment to thank WXPN’s Helen Leicht for spinning their tracks since the beginning. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Jade Bird delivers sassy Free at Noon performance

Jade Bird | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

British acoustic queen and Glassnote artist Jade Bird stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon to play some songs from her powerhouse catalog. She is slight and unassuming, but the moment she starts speaking with that bright lilting voice and absolutely tears into her guitar, you know you’re in for something special. She has undeniable roots in country, but there’s something more, something almost unplaceable that makes her special. She is uniquely herself, and she isn’t afraid to show it. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The National Reserve brings the heat to World Cafe Live

The National Reserve | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

On Friday afternoon, Brooklyn rockers The National Reserve brought a high energy set to World Cafe Live, filled with solos on the drums, keys, and guitars. The band opened on some older cuts, dropped a cover of Ronnie Lane’s “Roll on Babe,” slowed it down with “Don’t be Unkind” from their new full-length project Motel La Grange, which was released Friday. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Aces’ pure, infectious pop tunes filled World Cafe Live

The Aces | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Halfway through The Aces‘ set this afternoon, frontwoman Cristal Ramirez looked out into the audience and asked a question you don’t hear often at Free at Noon: “How many of you are supposed to be in school right now?” An impressive number of hands shot up in the air. The Aces may not have been surprised that a lot of young folks showed up to see them play, but they did seem a bit taken aback by the size of the crowd, given that it was a Friday at noon, and all. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Shacks put us in a Haze on this beautiful afternoon

The Shacks | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

New York indie band The Shacks stopped by for WXPN’s Free At Noon concert today, and their performance was mesmerizing. Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed when I was walking in, was 19-year-old lead singer Shannon Wise’s voice. I stopped midway through the entrance and actually blocked everyone behind me from getting in. Instantly, I was sent into a dream-like state where I felt like I was floating on a cloud with the sun softly hitting my face. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Albert Hammond Jr. mixes emotional complexity, upbeat energy, and a shimmering disco ball

Albert Hammond Jr. | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

The World Cafe Live disco ball was put to good use this afternoon during a Free at Noon appearance by the one and only Albert Hammond Jr. Even the warming weather couldn’t keep the eager audience away from Hammond’s performance, and it quickly turned into a big ol’ noontime party.

Though he’s best known as the guitarist of the Strokes, Hammond didn’t hold onto his own guitar for too long during today’s set, instead putting it down to roam — and dance — around the stage. Hammond is currently on tour behind his fourth solo album, Francis Trouble, released earlier this month, and shared several dynamic new songs today. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Nightmares on Wax bring living room jams to their midday set

Nightmares on Wax | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Friday afternoon, the downstairs space at World Cafe Live was transformed from its normal stage setup to what appeared to be a halfway cleared out living room. Where a kitchen table may have been before, a massive drum kit took its place. Pioneer CDJ’s and a mixer occupy every square inch of a coffee table placed in front of a leather couch. It’s on the couch we find George Evelyn perched, captaining the CDJ’s, an additional sequencer on his lap, and a MacBook Pro precariously perched atop an amp. With the hard hitting bass, it’s beyond me how the computer didn’t rattle it’s way off the amp.

Evelyn is the man behind the project Nightmares on Wax, originally a duo founded in 1989 in Leeds, England. Nightmares on Wax blends a plethora of genres, sourcing from both sides of the Atlantic and everything in between. With influences ranging from hip-hop, soul, and funk, to dub and reggae, house via Detroit and techno by way of Berlin, the sound that emerges is a beautifully mixed electronic blend, with nods to each element appearing throughout the midday set. Continue reading →